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Cabbageworms, also known as imported cabbageworms, are the caterpillar form of a very common, small, white butterfly seen in gardens throughout the United States. Known as the cabbage white or the imported cabbageworm butterfly, this non-native insect feeds on nectar from various flowering plants, but it lays its eggs on vegetables in the Brassica family, such as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and kale. Once eggs hatch, cabbageworm damage can be swift and extensive.

Identification: Small white butterflies with black wing spots in your garden are sure signs that cabbageworms will follow soon. Look on the undersides of leaves for eggs that resemble tiny golden footballs attached by their tips. The green, worm-like, 1-inch-long caterpillars are covered in fine hairs that give them a velvety appearance. Pale yellow lines run lengthwise down their bodies.

Signs/Damage: Cabbageworms feed on plants in the cabbage family, creating very large, irregular holes and boring down into vegetable heads. Because of their green coloring, cabbageworms blend into plants and are often hard to find at first. However, they leave large amounts of dark green excrement pellets that are very easy to spot. Find those, and the pest is nearby.

Control: Protecting against cabbageworm damage starts as soon as the butterflies arrive. Inspect cabbages and related plants closely, remove and destroy eggs, and treat plants for cabbageworms right away. GardenTech® brand offers several highly effective controls that kill cabbageworms by contact and keep protecting for up to three months. These products can be used on your Brassica crops right up to one day before your harvest:

  • Sevin® Insect Killer Ready to Use is ideal for targeted spot treatments of specific pests and plants. Adjust the nozzle to spray wide or narrow, and cover both upper and lower plant surfaces thoroughly.
  • Sevin® Insect Killer Concentrate, used with a pump-style sprayer, provides an economical way to treat larger areas of your garden efficiently and effectively.
  • Sevin® Insect Killer Ready to Spray attaches to your garden hose and mixes for you as you spray, making it easy to treat your cabbage patch quickly and thoroughly.

Tip: At season's end, remaining cabbageworms enter a pupal stage that adults emerge from in spring. After harvest, remove and destroy all leftover plant debris to prevent the pest from overwintering.

Always read product labels and follow the instructions carefully, including guidelines for pre-harvest intervals on edible crops.

GardenTech is a registered trademark of Gulfstream Home and Garden, Inc.

Sevin is a registered trademark of Tessenderlo Kerley, Inc.

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